Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 14:01 UK

British Energy offices 'to stay'

Torness power station
British Energy operates two nuclear plants in Scotland

French energy giant EDF, which has agreed to buy British Energy, has stated its commitment to maintaining offices in Scotland.

The deal has been welcomed by the Scottish Government.

British Energy employs 1,400 people at its two nuclear power plants north of the border and its headquarters in East Kilbride.

The CBI in Scotland said it wanted to learn more about the implications of the deal.

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan added: "It is sad to see the loss of another major company headquartered in Scotland.

"Our preference is obviously for Scots-based firms being the ones who are launching the takeover bids. We look forward to learning more about the implications of this deal in due course, and the future for the company's staff and its HQ."

Our job now is to ensure that EDF keeps the existing plants open and maintains or improves investment
Dougie Rooney
Unite

But he continued: "Decisions on company ownership are best left to the market place, and what is in the best interests of investors and stakeholders.

"After all, it is difficult to, on the one hand, rail against protectionism abroad and praise the international growth of leading Scots firms like First Group, Wood Group and Edrington, whilst with the other hand pull up the drawbridge and argue for protectionism here at home."

British Energy has about 1,400 employees across its two power stations in Scotland - Torness in East Lothian and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire - and at its headquarters in East Kilbride.

The takeover announcement has been welcomed by the unions.

But Dougie Rooney, national officer of Unite, said he was now looking for guarantees for ancillary British companies.

He added: "We welcome the end of a long sales process. EDF was the only potential purchaser. Our job now is to ensure that EDF keeps the existing plants open and maintains or improves investment."

The first minister discussed a possible deal with EDF's chief executive in June.

'Maintain offices'

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We welcome the commitment by EDF to East Kilbride and to Scotland. That commitment is to maintain offices in East Kilbride."

The spokesman said Mr Salmond had held talks with EDF in June, when he "emphasised the Scottish Government's opposition to new nuclear stations but also pressed for an assurance by EDF about the East Kilbride facility".

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather wrote to UK Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks in May asking that any takeover talks took "strong account" of the effect on the firm's Scottish headquarters.

Responding to the announcement, Labour's finance spokesperson, Andy Kerr said there were concerns about employment and headquarters functions - but that it was also "an opportunity to secure much-needed high quality engineering and technical skills here in Scotland".

Mr Kerr added: "It is also an opportunity for the workforce to be part of the renewal of the nuclear power capacity in the UK.

"It is ironic that the Nationalists call for the retention of the headquarters function here in Scotland whilst having closed minds and closed doors to the renewal of nuclear capacity in Scotland. It is sheer hypocrisy on the part of the SNP."

Scottish Conservative enterprise spokesman Gavin Brown said: "Alex Salmond has a brass neck and bare-faced cheek if he thinks that EDF would keep jobs in a country that doesn't want its product.

"The way to keep the jobs is for the SNP minority government to get behind British Energy and stop messing about with the security of Scotland's future energy supply."




SEE ALSO
EDF agrees to buy British Energy
24 Sep 08 |  Business

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